Lilizel Provincial Winner in Accommodation 2017

Aquatic Weed & Lilies - "The Thunzi Ripper"
2017-07-18 | Trenwyth Pledger

I'm not joking when I say we have taken around 4 years to figure out the most effective and efficient way to pull the aquatic weed and lilies from our dams!

Ntaka Dam - Lilies starting to become a problem by choking the dam

When we first bought the land 16 years ago, the dams were weed free and the sparse lilies little more than a pretty addition to an already beautiful space. Seemingly overnight, the weed crept in and together with the ever increasing lilies, started to choke the dams. Our dams are the last on the De Stades River and feed from a number of other farm dams before us up river, so we can only guess that this is where the weed originated. We had (sort of) managed by pulling the lilies and aquatic weed out by hand but as you can imagine, this is a tedious and seriously labour intensive, continuous project.

Ngulube Dam with Aquatic Weed

I spent hours on the internet trying to source equipment or an organic product that would kill these two invasive species. It was imperative to make sure that whatever we did, it would not affect the fish living in the dams or birds and other wildlife coming for a bath and / or a drink of water.

I stumbled across a great little thing called the Manzi Panga (www.manzipanga.co.za); perfect to chop off the plant at the bottom of the root, which we can then scoop out as it floats to the top. Labour intensive still, but it worked and we were almost weed free… for a month or so. You cannot believe just how quickly these invasive species grow.

Mark decided to get involved by building his own specially designed ‘weed chopper’! We’ve had some design flaws and are currently on our 3rd attempt, but can happily report it’s the best result we’ve had to date, only having to clear the dams every 6 to 8 months.

On the upside, we get to save a little on feed costs as we’re experiencing a drought at the moment and our Nguni cattle just love to munch the lilies!

Lily/Aquatic Weed Ripper - designed by Mark Pledger and built by Supacrush

It’s 11℃  and the guys can’t help getting a bit splashed… If you hear me giggling, it’s because I’m getting a proper telling off by Ace for videoing the splash! Hahaha – hot chocolate around the fire afterwards anyone? Let’s just say everyone at Thunzi is very happy that we only have to do this once during winter and summer is a doddle with a swim straight after.

Ace starting to pull aquatic weed off the ripper.

Aquatic weed pulled out in go.

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